Skip to main content

Procol Harum: A Salty Dog

1969’s diverse third album, with juicy bonus cuts.

Coming in a cover which replicated the Players Navy Cut cigarette box, Procol’s third album navigated a stormy course through a variety of styles, starting with the nautical masterpiece of its title track.

Released as a single in June 1969, the song stands as one of the widescreenclassics of early prog as Gary Brooker unleashes his most towering vocal performance against the swell of a full orchestra. Produced by organist (and sometime singer) Matthew Fisher, the rest of the album mingled classical prog (Wreck Of The Hesperus), stoned whimsy (Boredom), pastoral Procol organ magic (Pilgrim’s Progress) and gutbucket blues (Juicy John Pink). Crucifixion Lane marks a rare vocal from guitarist Robin Trower, while The Devil Came From Kansas betrays the country rock influence for which Guy Stevens hoped when he christened the band. When Fisher and Dave Knights departed after recording, the album became the last with Procol’s original line-up, leaving a strangely unique legacy. The reissue comes with bonus disc boasting Radio 1 sessions (complete with John Peel announcements) and live tracks, plus lavish annotation from Procol biographer Henry Scott-Irvine.

Kris Needs is a British journalist and author, known for writings on music from the 1970s onwards. Previously secretary of the Mott The Hoople fan club, he became editor of ZigZag in 1977 and has written biographies of stars including Primal Scream, Joe Strummer and Keith Richards. He's also written for MOJO, Record Collector, Classic Rock, Prog, Electronic Sound, Vive Le Rock and Shindig!